When The Curmudgeon lived in Philadelphia, one of the area supermarkets sold delicious orange muffins. You don’t encounter orange muffins very often and these were really good and became one of his go-to breakfasts.
When he moved to New Jersey, the nearest store operated by the same chain didn’t routinely carry orange muffins. As he learned from the staff there – because it was worth asking, that’s how good they were (shades of the memorable episode of M*A*S*H about the hunt for “Adam’s Ribs” in Chicago) – they only carried them when they were on sale.
And alas, the sale flyers seldom reached The Curmudgeon’s door.
It just so happens that The Curmudgeon fancies himself a good baker, but try though he might, he could never find a good orange muffin recipe. Discouraged, he pretty much gave up on orange muffins, but one day, several years later and in a different supermarket, he found a commercial, boxed orange-cranberry muffin mix.
He bought the mix, liked the muffins, and eventually tinkered with the ingredients a little to make them a little more orange-y. The maker, a company called Krusteaz, had both a fat-free and a regular version and The Curmudgeon found he preferred the fat-free version over the full-fat version.
And so he was a happy camper for a number of years. This past winter, though, he couldn’t find the fat-free version at all and started buying the regular version, and then the regular version became scarce as well. A little web research revealed what The Curmudgeon already suspected: Krusteaz was going out of the orange-cranberry muffin business.
Apparently there’s a reason you don’t come across orange muffins very often and The Curmudgeon’s business was not enough to save the product.
This is not new for The Curmudgeon: over the years he’s lost numerous brands that he likes, things ranging from razor blades and deodorants and underwear and shampoos to teas and fiber supplements and cereals and yogurt and more. On a few occasions, such as with the teas, he managed to visit a few stores and lay in a supply of the disappearing product to buy time until he could find a suitable replacement.
The only complication in such a process is when you have a date over to the house and she wonders why you have a case of Metamucil Clear & Natural sitting under the open counter of your guest bathroom. That required some pretty fast talking. (And apparently successful fast talking, too: she married The Curmudgeon anyway!)
So that’s what he set out to do with the muffin mix: buy up stock anywhere he could find it so he could buy the time he needed to hunt down an alternative mix or, if necessary, attempt to create a suitable orange muffin recipe that he could bake from scratch.
So he did a web search, but it didn’t look promising.
Amazon: no fat-free and the regular version, normally $2.49 a box, was selling for $6.98 a box.
Price-gouging, like neighborhood hardware stores selling shovels when snow is in the forecast!
Walmart: no fat-free, regular version for $2.14 a box. A decent prospect.
Other sites: nothing available.
All of the supermarkets in his area: nothing.
All of the supermarkets in the parts of Philadelphia he visits weekly: nothing.
And then – Target!
The good news: the fat-free version was available for $1.99 a box
The bad news: shipping was $4.98 a box.
Which meant he was back in Amazon territory: nearly $7 a box.
But the fine print: shipping is free for orders over $25.
The Curmudgeon ordered 15 boxes – with free shipping, baby!
And if you don’t believe him, see the photo on the right: A boy and his muffin mix.
There was just one hitch: he ordered the fat-free and received the regular version. He contacted Target and it turns out they’re out of the fat-free and say they don’t know when they’ll have more. The Curmudgeon knows, though: you can’t restock a product that’s no longer being made and therefore they’re never, ever going to have more.
But he now has 15 boxes, more than a year’s worth – this boy does not live by cranberry-orange muffins alone, there are other flavors he enjoys (pumpkin! both homemade and from a box), plus he rotates muffins with other breakfast foods – and now he has time to find a suitable recipe to replace the box mix.